The first five issues of Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy’s “The Wake” that made up “Part One” left readers on a brutal and fascinating cliffhanger. They’ve returned, a few months later, with “The Wake” #6 as a kickoff to the second half of the series, and they do not disappoint.
Snyder does a fantastic job of getting readers familiar with Leeward and her mission, as well as connecting Leeward directly to Dr. Lee Archer from the first half of the series. Given where Snyder has already been with this tale — spanning millions of years — it’s impossible not to wonder where he’s going this time and if it can possibly live up to previous installments. Reading “The Wake” #6, all worry should be set to rest: Snyder knows exactly where he’s going and it will be a joy to come along for the ride. His world of “The Wake” is both epic and personal in the best way.
This installment is a bit heavy on the exposition. Snyder does his best to weave it in as naturally as possible, but there’s a lot of important information as the story heads into this wildly new world and some of the more awkward information dumps are an unfortunate but likely necessary evil. If Snyder got most of that out in this issue (which it feels like he has) readers should have relatively clear sailing ahead.
Fortunately, Snyder has Murphy and colorist Matt Hollingsworth’s stunning visuals to handle the massive world building more organically. Murphy excels at both the minutia of world building and also the grandeur of an epic worthy of the big screen. In Murphy’s hands, Leeward’s world is exceptionally well rendered — from her dolphin “sidekick” Dash and her airplane-meets-tree house home to her waterlogged city and beyond. Murphy mitigates a lot of the exposition simply by drawing beautifully. He also uses clever devices, like a view of the world we once knew and the largely underwater one it is today to help readers truly grasp the changes in the setting. Murphy also has fun with a map element that gives readers a much larger peek into Leeward’s world, and like the best of visual elements, it also tells a lot about what she cares about and her goals.
Hollingsworth’s palette shifts effortlessly as the story demands, moving from subtle, more washed out panels to pages that feel saturated and dark. It’s a gorgeous mix that has a lot of pop and focus on certain key elements — like the water, which is stunning in its pure blue. Leeward herself is an odd color, slightly orange and darker in tone than many other characters, nicely suggesting her active hunting life spent in and on the water. It’s the kind of well-considered colors that most comics should have.
“The Wake” continues to be a great book that demonstrates the passion and drive of its creators. Snyder and Murphy’s love of the story is palpable on the page, and this issue is an incredibly strong kick off to what looks to be a promising conclusion — one of the best of 2013, and already headed toward the best of 2014.